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Philly Next for Comcast's X1

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
11/16/2012
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Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s next-gen video product will soon show up in the company's corporate back yard.

Philadelphia is one of two big Comcast markets on tap to get X1, the company's new hybrid QAM/IP service that integrates Pandora, Facebook and other Web apps and ties it together with a new cloud-based user interface.

Tom Blaxland, the senior director of product management for Xfinity TV, told the Philadelphia Business Journal that the X1 would debut in that market in the coming weeks.

On Comcast's third-quarter call in late October, cable unit President and CEO Neil Smit said X1 was on tap to launch in two "major markets" soon. Comcast has already introduced the product in four markets: Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Boston; and Chattanooga, Tenn. Comcast is primarily targeting new triple-play customers with the X1 offering. (See Comcast Makes Hay With Metro Ethernet and Comcast's Cloud TV Service Rolls Into Atlanta.)

Comcast declined to reveal an exact X1 launch date for Philadelphia or the second market Smit had referenced. Philadelphia, though, is part of the MSO's Freedom region, which also includes New Jersey and northern Delaware.

The X1 currently runs on a Pace plc hybrid video gateway outfitted with a Docsis 3.0 cable modem. Future versions are expected to introduce integrated video transcoding and Wi-Fi, making them capable of feeding video to tablets and other devices hanging on the home network. Comcast is also developing the XI3, IP-only HD client that could work in tandem with video gateways. (See Meet Comcast's IP-Only Set-Top.)

The X1, the 2012 Leading Lights winner in the Best New Service or Application (Cable) category, is also the first Comcast product to use the company's reference design kit (RDK), a pre-integrated bundle of video software that aims to speed up the product development cycle for hybrid and IP-only video devices. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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